When you master these 4 ways to improve your pitch recognition & baseball vision, you'll realize that "simple hitting adjustments" can have a huge impact on how well hitter's see the ball.
Does this sound familiar?
You step in the batter's box, the pitcher releases the pitch...BOOM!
It's already in the glove. You have no idea what type of pitch it was. Whether it was a ball or strike. A pitch you should have taken or swung at.
You're lost at the plate because you're not seeing it well. Not seeing the ball well is a confidence killer.
Sometimes, making important adjustments to your hitting approach & baseball vision is understanding what not to do.
Listed below are 4 ways to improve your pitch recognition & baseball vision.
- Slow The Feet & Quiet The Head
- Be Ready To Crush The Fastball
- Lossen The Muscles
- Remember Your Approach
If you have a solid swing, but you're still not making solid, consistent contact, start with the approach. Ask yourself, "how well am I seeing the ball".
If it's not 10 out of 10, you might be struggling with these adjustments.
1. Slow The Feet & Quiet The Head
Seem like the moment Josh Donaldson had his break out year with the Blue-Jays, every young hitter started hitting with a leg kick.
Don't get us wrong. Josh Donaldson's swing is legit. His swing and approach is a solid example to model BUT, and this is a big BUT...
...most young hitters haven't developed the strength and balance in their half to be able to utilize a leg kick into their swing.
In other words, a leg kick leads to a bigger stride which leads to head and eye movement.
If you can't minimize head movement during your stride, your eyes will struggle to pick up the pitch plane, type, and location.
A leg kick is great for getting your swing started while encouraging an aggressive approach but not at the expense of optimal pitch recognition.
If you want to see the ball better, slow down your feet, shorten your stride and keep your head on a swivel. This is one of the best ways to slow the pitch down especially when you're trying to make the adjustments to higher velocity pitchers
2. Be Ready To Crush The Fastball
After spending 5 years in a row of giving 500 hitting lessons each year, the most common challenge I see the hitters I trained face while trying to apply what they learned in practice into the game was simply being ready to hit.
In practice, they work on hitting the ball to the opposite field, two-strike hitting, hitting in hitter's counts, hitting behind in the count, hitting in clutch situations, hitting breaking balls...
...none of it will translate if they're not "geared up" to hit the next pitch that's coming.
Here's the heart of this adjustment.
If you're not anticipating that the next pitch thrown is going to be a strike that you will be taking a selectively aggressive hack on, you won't be ready to make solid contact.
Most hitters are tentatively thinking "I'm going to swing IF it's a strike" instead of assuming that it's going to be a strike and a good pitch to swing at.
When the hitters is in the box assuming they're going to swing, they're locked in, their nervous system is primed to attack the next pitch.
Now they're confident because they're competing in the box.
Since they're confident, they're pitch recognition and baseball vision thrives.
All great competitors in the box do this.
They're always ready to hit. Never taking a pitch "off"
Be ready to hit and you'll see the ball better.
2. Lossen The Muscles
Loose muscles are quick muscles. Tense muscles are slow muscles.
For example, when the muscles you use to pull the bat-head through the zone are tense, your bat-speed slows down.
When the muscles around your eyes are tense, your visual acuity takes a hit.
The adjustment here is about two things.
Body awareness and breathing.
You can try this right now while reading this. Scan the level of tension in your shoulders and your eyes.
Are you tense? Can you detect strain in your eyes?
In all, your ability to detect tension and then soften with your breathing will dictate how much calmness and focus you can bring to an at-bat.
Take the tension out of your swing and soften your eyes by using awareness and deep breaths.
Watch a big league ball game. See how the elite hitters get ready for each pitch. A deep breath. Soft eyes. Relaxed, focused yet mentally tough.
Refine your awareness and take control of your breathing to see the ball better.
4. Remember Your Approach
If you're a baseball parent or coach try this exercise. Grab your player and ask them this question. "What's your approach?"
I bet you my bottom dollar they will shrug their shoulders, and that's okay.
I've worked with countless hitters. What's the one thing holding them back from being the elite of the elite? Not having an approach at the plate.
Here's another question, if you were to ask that question to an MLB All-Star, you could probably write a best-selling book on the art, science, and philosophy of hitting.
Every single hitter at the major league level has an approach that supports their success at the plate. Period.
Not one goes there hoping that things go well. Every movement in the box has a rhyme and reason.
As hitter's, when we don't have an approach, we're throwing caution to the wind. We're giving the pitcher leverage because we're dictating what we do in the box based on only what the pitcher does on the mound.
Hardly a recipe for success.
The approach is everything.
So how is the approach related to pitch recognition and baseball vision?
One word. "Time."
In other words, an approach gives you space because when you're:
- letting the ball travel
- looking for pitches up in the zone while trying to hit the ball to the big part of the field
- going gap-to-gap...
...you're giving yourself more time to make an adjustment
You don't have to commit earlier the swing because you're letting the ball travel deeper in the zone.
When you're approach is sitting on the breaking ball because you've noticed that he starts off every hitter with a curveball or with runners on, you're ready to take a controlled violent swing on a mistake pitch up in the zone.
In both cases, since you have the right approach, you're seeing the ball well. Out of the pitcher's hands, throughout the pitch plane, all the way to point of contact.
The approach is so money and when you get it right, hitting will get just a little bit easier.
Take Control of Your Pitch Recognition & Baseball Vision
When we see the ball well, we're confident. Confidence makes this game fun.
Master these 4 ways to improve your pitch recognition & baseball vision, and watch your performance at the plate double.
When we're having fun, we play well. When we play well, we make good memories, we learn lessons that make us better athletes.
In closing, see the ball better and doors will open.